July 2021 has shown more active shipping traffic than it was this month in previous years (see the chart on the map). In total, we have recorded 348 voyages and 208 ships.
Relating these voyages to certain projects on the Northern Sea Route, it can be noted that the Yamal LNG project still uses the route more often than others. In addition to the fleet operating all year round, 5 more ships have started to export LNG – 3 LNG carriers of Arc 4 ice class and two carriers without ice class. In total, all the vessels made 21 export voyages: 11 for Japan, China and South Korea and 10 for Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Spain.
A large amount of work was carried out on the development of the Salmanovskoe field (Yamal LNG-2 project) – 40 voyages were performed against 19 in July 2020. The bulk of the traffic associated with this project was made by general cargo vessels, container ships and bulk carriers – 33 voyages, tugs and an icebreaker were also involved – 5 voyages, a heavy load carrier – 1 voyage and a tanker – 1 voyage.
Despite the difficult navigation conditions in the Siberian rivers connected with forest fires, as well as a drop in the water level in some rivers, the vessels of river-sea type have started Arctic navigation and worked within their schedule. In July 2021, it was registered 34 such voyages (the same number was in July 2020).
Traditionally, with the beginning of summer navigation period, work started on dredging vessels (14 were operated), drilling rigs and vessels (“Bavenit” vessel; “Arkticheskaya” platform in the Kara Sea and “Perro Negro 8” platform in the Ob Bay), research vessels (13 vessels).
When the ice conditions became better, the work of the icebreaker fleet decreased. Among diesel icebreakers in early July, the river-class icebreaker “Kapitan Evdokimov” (served in the Ob Bay) started to work, and at the end of the month the icebreaker “Tor” left the area of the Yamal LNG-2 project and went to Arkhangelsk. Among the nuclear icebreakers, only two worked – “Taimyr” and “Yamal”. “Taimyr” worked in the waters of the Kara Sea, the Laptev Sea, as well as in the Ob Bay and the Yenisey Bay. “Yamal” served in the Kara Sea, and also supported ships eastward to the East Siberian and Chukchi Seas. In total, nuclear and diesel icebreakers made 16 passages in July this year, while last year it was twice as few – 8.
Some shipowners have changed their timetable for entering the NSR in order not to apply for the help of icebreakers in difficult areas. So, for example, “A-Service” company, which works in the field of delivery of goods to the Chukotka Autonomous District and other remote regions of Russia, postponed the start of Arctic navigation until August (www.instagram.com).
However, some vessels, that made transit passages via the NSR this July, did not wait for an improvement of ice conditions and turned to the help of icebreakers. Three ships (marked in the table below with *) had to drift for several days. We excluded the downtime at sea when calculating the average speed on the NSR for these vessels.
In total, there were 11 transits in July (4 were in July 2020). 6 voyages – from west to east and 5 – from east to west. Among the types of ships: 4 general cargo vessels, 3 bulk carriers, 2 tankers, 1 LNG carrier and 1 heavy load carrier.